A.P. Srivastava, J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. The petitioner and the respondent No. 1 Sri Chhakki Lal filed their nomination papers for election to the post or Pradhan of Gaon Panchayat Sheora. An objection was raised against the nomination paper of the first respondent on the ground that he stood disqualified because he had been convicted of an offence under Section 60 of the U.P. Excise Act and had been sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 10/- for that offence. It was contended that the offence was one involving moral turpitude. The objection was accepted and the nomination paper of the first respondent was rejected, the petitioner was, therefore declared elected unapposed. The first respondent then filed an election petition and contended that in the circumstances in which his conviction under Section 60 of the Excise Act had been recorded the offence did not involve moral turpitude and his nomination paper had, therefore, been wrongly rejected. The Sub-Divisional Officer who heard the election petition accepted the contention, allowed the election petition, set aside the election of the petitioner and declared a casual vacancy. Against the order of the S.D.O. the present petition has been filed and it is prayed that the order be quashed by a writ or certiorari. The ground urged is that the S.D.O. was incorrect in his view that the conviction of the first respondent under Section 60 of the Excise Act was not one for an offence involving moral turpitude.
2. The petition is contested by the first respondent. He does not deny that he was convicted under Section 60 of the Excise Act and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 10/-. He, however, explains the circumstances in which his conviction was recorded. His case is that he was suffering from pain and had been advised to take bhang as a medicine. Etawah, the district to which he belonged was not a prohibited area and bhang could be purchased from a licensed, shop. The respondent has thus under medical advice purchased a tola of bhang. He had to go in a barat to a place in the district of Kanpur and carried with him a tola of bhang which he had purchased lawfully. He did not Know that possession of bhang in the district of Kanpur was an offence and when the Excise Inspector asked him if he had any bhang with him he told him that he had a small quantity of one tola with him under medical advice and he did not know that possession of such a small quantity or bhang was an offence. He was, however challaned and subsequently convicted. The contention, therefore, is that the conviction was of a technical nature and in the circumstances the offence committed could not be held to involve moral turpitude.
3. The question that, therefore, arises for decision in this case is whether in the circumstances in which the first respondent was convicted of the offence under Section 60 of the Excise Act it could be said that he had been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude.
4. The expression 'moral turpitude' has not been defined in the Panchayat Raj Act or the rules framed thereunder. In Baleshwar Singh v. District Magistrate and Collector of Banaras, AIR 1959 All 71 a question arose as to whether conviction under Section 182 IPC. for making a false report was in respect of an offence involving moral turpitude and in answering this question in the attirmative Mr. Justice Tandon observed:--
'The expression 'moral turpitude' is not defined anywhere but it means anything done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals. It implies depravity and weakness of character and disposition of the person charged with the particular conduct. Every false statement made by a person may not be 'moral turpitude' but it would be so it it discloses vileness or depravity in the doing of any private and social duty which a person owes to his fellowmen or to his society in general.'
In Shiva Nand v. Sub Divisional Officer, Chunar, 1961 RD (HC) 186, the question which arose was whether a conviction under Section 13 of the Public Gambling Act was a conviction for an offence involving moral turpitude. There was a difference of opinion between Mootham C. J. and Dayal J. on that question and reference was made to Mr. Justice Mukerji. He answered the question in the affirmative and after referring to the dictionary meaning of the word 'moral turpitude' he laid down:
'The meaning given to the phrase 'moral turpitude' by Bovier which I have quoted above, indicated that 'moralturpitude' and turpitude mean almost the same type or failing in a man's character, or portray the same type of baseness in a man's moral and mental make up.'
He went on to say:
'Ideas of morals often undergo changes in different periods of a country's history. It is also true that different people of the world some times differ as to whether a particular act is moral or immoral. Whenever a question has to be considered as to whether a certain act is moral or immoral one has to consider as to how that act is viewed by the society or the community, as the case may be, and if the society or the community views such act as involving moral turpitude, then even though some particular individual may not consider it so will not make the act a moral one, or a praiseworthy act. Therefore, whether an act involves moral turpitude or does not, has to be determined not necessarily on abstract notions of the rights and wrongs involved or the harm or the good coming out or the act but how that act is looked upon in the society where the act has been committed.'
The learned Judge further observed:
'The phrase 'moral turpitude' refers to acts of baseness; acts which have an element of vileness or acts which are harmful to society in general or contrary to accepted rules of rights and duties between man and man. It may be that some acts involve moral culpability in a larger degree than other acts but, nevertheless, all such acts do involve moral culpability.'
The question was also considered by the Punjab High Courtin AIR 1957 Punj 97, Durga Singh v. State of Punjab, and the view taken was similar to that taken by Mr. Justice Tandon in the case cited earlier.
5. With great respect, it appears to me that some or the observations made in these decisions have been too widely stated and if followed literally may make every act punishable in law an offence involving moral turpitude, that, however could not be the intention with which those observations were made. From consideration of the dictionary meaning of the words 'moral' and 'turpitude' as well as the real ratio decidendi of the cases the principle which emerges appear to be that the question whether a certain offence involves moral turpitude or not will necessarily depend on the circumstances in which the offence is committed. It is not every punishable act that can be considered to be an offence involving moral turpitude. Had that been so, the qualification 'involving moral turpitude' would not nave been used by the Legislature and it would have disqualified every person who had been convicted of any offence, the tests which should ordinarily be applied for judging whether a certain offence does or does not involve moral turpitude appear to be: (1) whether the act leading to a conviction was such as could shock the moral conscience or society in general, (2) whether the motive which led to the act was a base one and (3) whether on account of the acthaving been committed the perpetrator could be considered to be of a depraved character or a person who was to be looked down upon by the society.
6. No absolute standard can be laid down for deciding whether a particular act is to be considered one involving moral turpitude but the above are the general tests which should be applied and which should in most cases be sufficient for enabling one to arrive at a correct conclusion on the question.
7. Applying the above mentioned test to the factsof the present case it cannot be overlooked that in thedistrict of Etawah to which the respondent belongs therewas no prohibition against taking bhang. In that District bhang could be had from a licensed shop by any man. It is also well known that bhang is some times used as medicine. The quantity which was found in possession of the respondent was a very small quantity of one tola. The taking of bhang either as a medicine or as an intoxicant is not considered undesirable by society in general and in most districts of this State the practice of taking bhang is fairly common. The respondent would not have been convicted at all if that small quantity of bhang had been found in his possession in his own district. Unfortunately, when he had gone in the barat he had taken that quantity of bhang with him and as he was found to be in possession of the article in a district where prohibition was in force he was held guilty under Section 60(a) of the Excise Act. There was in the present case, therefore, no base motive leading to the crime. The act did not also show any depravity in the character of the respondent nor had the respondent done anything which was considered base or demeaning by society in general. In these circumstances the conviction of the respondent was really a technical one and could not be considered to be in respect of an offence involving moral turpitude.
8. In my opinion, therefore, the view taken by the sub-Divisional Officer in the present case about the character of the offence of which the respondent had been convicted was not incorrect in law. The decision of the S.D.O. dismissing the election petition cannot, therefore, be assailed on the ground that it suffers from an apparent error of law. NO question of jurisdiction is involved. No case has, therefore, been made out for quashing the order by a writ of certiorari.
9. The petition as a result fails and is dismissed withcosts.